6. March 2012
There are some things that remain a mystery to me.
Like why in 2011 there were only 34,421 Mazda CX-9s sold, according to Autodata. “Only” because if you look at a competitive set of vehicles, the CX-9 is handily beat. The set that comes to mind for the seven-passenger crossover is the lineup from General Motors, the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia.
Let’s look at this from a pricing perspective, first of all. The MSRP for the CX-9 Grand Touring all-wheel-drive vehicle is $34,785. This is the top trim level for the car. So by comparison, the top trim level for the Chevy, the seven-passenger LTZ, has a starting MSRP of $40,885. The Chevy has a 3.6-liter V6 direct injection engine with variable valve timing that produces 281 hp @ 6,300 rpm and 270 lb-ft of torque @ 3,400 rpm. The CX-9 has a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 273 hp @ 6,250 rpm and 270 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm. The Chevy has a six-speed automatic, as does the Mazda. The Chevy provides 16/23 mpg city/highway; the CX-9 16/22 mpg. The Chevy is actually a bit bigger than the CX-9 in exterior dimensions and interior volume. But the tale of the tape is fairly close.
The curious thing is that ~$6,000 delta is pricing. You’re getting much the same stuff in terms of amenities, from leather to 20-in. alloys.
But that spacing as regards the sticker is nothing compared to the difference in the sales figures. Of the GM products, the base AWD Enclave is the priciest, starting at $39,970—and that means things like cloth seats. There were 58,392 Enclaves (of all types, base and top-of-the-line; AWD and FWD) sold in 2011. You can get an AWD GMC Acadia starting at $35,705. Again, cloth. Of all trims and types, there were 79,288 Acadias sold in 2011. Then the aforementioned Chevy. All in, there were 107,131 Traverses sold in 2011. Realize that the CX-9 is available in lower trims than the Grand Touring, and as a FWD car, as well. The least expensive AWD version is available for $30,775. The least expensive Chevy AWD stickers at $31,510. Maybe the few hundred bucks between the two makes the difference. Makes a huge difference.
Or could it be that people simply aren’t aware of the CX-9? Or that when they think Mazda they just think “Zoom-Zoom” and when you’re looking for seating for five normally sized people and a couple small ones, zoom isn’t in your hierarchy of needs? Let’s face it: while the CX-9 has a reasonable amount of pep and independent suspension all around so that it isn’t like piloting some sort of freighter, it is more about moving people and stuff than it is getting the adrenaline pumping.
While I don’t have any data that tells me one way or the other, I suspect that there aren’t a whole lot of people who know about the CX-9 and consequently that’s why you don’t see as many of them on the road as the vehicle deserves. It is stylish. The engineering is rock solid, using everything from hot-stamping for an extremely strong bumper reinforcement to laser welding and weld bonding (combining welding and structural adhesives). There’s the now-obligatory connectivity tech and heating for the steering wheel as well as the seats. There is simply a fine package.
Why there aren’t more of them out there—the mystery.
Engine: 3.7-liter V6
Materials: Aluminum block and head
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Horsepower: 273 @ 6,250 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm
Wheelbase: 113.2 in.
Length: 200.2 in.
Width: 76.2 in.
Height: 68.0 in.
EPA: 16/22 mpg city/highway